ANDERSON — Jerry Shelton, a resident of Pendleton, nominated Anderson police officer Ray Novak for person of the year because of Novak's long service in protecting his community.
Shelton said Novak is a first-class officer who doesn't get enough credit for the work that he does.
"Ray is dedicated to doing his job and doing it right," Shelton said. "He doesn't get involved in politics, he just does what he thinks is best for Anderson."
After starting his career as an Indiana State Police trooper, Novak realized his dream of working for the Anderson Police Department in 1985 and is now coming up on 30 years with the force.
Shelton said he and Novak go deer hunting together and said he has gotten to know the officer well over the years.
He mentioned one story in particular that occurred back in 2003 that he believed defined Novak's toughness and bravery. Novak was in Madison County Federal Credit Union on 53rd Street, out of uniform, when a man attempted to rob the building. Shelton said Novak had a small handgun and exchanged gunfire with Pascall Sylla, who was later sentenced to 35 years. Sylla escaped but was shot at least once by Novak. DNA collected from the blood eventually led to a guilty conviction.
"If you think about it, his chances of survival weren't very good," Shelton said. "But that's what makes him such a good cop. He's dedicated to protecting people, no matter the cost."
Novak is currently ranked as a sergeant for APD.